31 May 2013


Below, with much gratitude to Lasse Collin and his wonderful website, is the tune Salty Dog. You will note that Lasse gives the chords (concert) at the top. The key is Bb but the first chord is G7, leading to C7, then F7, and so to Bb, before the cycle begins again. This sequence (VI7-II7-V7-I) is known as The Salty Dog Chord Progression and it is used in many tunes. It begins on the Chord of the VI and then goes through the Circle of Fifths.
In the lower part of his Chart, Lasse has transposed the tune into the key of C (for Bb instruments), so this time it begins on A7 and progresses through D7, etc.

Take another example. If you're in the key of F and the chord for the first full bar of the tune is D7, it's likely you are playing a song that begins with The Salty Dog Chord Progression. It appears quite frequently in traditional jazz. So it is helpful to become familiar with it, especially as this will help you with improvising.

Examples of our tunes in which The Salty Dog Chord Progression is used:

A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Alabamy Bound
All I Want is a Spoonful
Any Time
At The Jazz Band Ball [main strain]
Balling The Jack
Buck Fever Rag

Friends and Neighbours
Good Time Flat Blues (also known as Farewell to Storyville) [chorus]
Jazz Me Blues [main strain]
Lonesome Drag
Put and Take Blues

Rose of the Rio Grande
Salty Dog
Seems Like Old Times
Shine On Harvest Moon
Since My Best Girl Turned Me Down

Sweet Georgia Brown
Tailgate Ramble
Take a Ferryboat Down to New Orleans
There’ll Be Some Changes Made
Up A Lazy River
You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
You've Got The Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole

I have received this e-mail from James Sterling in Florida. James is a fan of bluegrass as well as traditional jazz:

I was catching up on your blog tonight and saw your post on 'Salty Dog' and thought I would forward you the version I grew up with. This is a clip from the Flatt and Scruggs television show recorded in the 1960s. It was a ritual in our home to watch Flatt and Scruggs every Saturday night at 6pm. Lester Flatt singing lead and playing rhythm guitar, Earl Scruggs on five-string banjo (the best there ever was and the best there ever will be), Buck Graves (also known as 'Uncle Josh') on dobro, Paul Warren on fiddle, Curly Seckler harmony and mandolin (the only living member of the original band at 94), and 'Cousin Jake' Tullock on bass:

Thanks, James. I enjoyed that. And, by the way, those essential repeated four chords keep coming through loud and clear.